Tutorial Thursday


What was going on this week at CyberNet News and Learn Firefox? Here’s your chance to catch-up if you missed something!

I periodically receive inquiries from friends asking for the easiest way to access files and folders on a FTP server. They normally have their own FTP server setup at home, and they want to ensure fast access to their files without having to mess with third-party applications. Is it possible to quickly map a FTP to a drive? You bet!

The solution I’m about to show you doesn’t exactly assign a drive letter to the FTP server, but it will essentially serve the same purpose as a drive. Through Windows Explorer you’ll have one-click access to your files, and they will even be accessible through the standard Open/Save dialog boxes in apps such as Microsoft Word.

Here’s how you can set it up:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and choose the “Map Network Drive” option.
    Vista location: Along the top toolbar
    XP location: Tools Menu
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 1
  2. Choose the option at the bottom that reads:
    Vista: “Connect to a Web site that you can use to store your documents and pictures”
    XP: “Sign up for online storage or connect to a network server”
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 2
  3. Click “Choose a custom network location”:
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 3
  4. Enter in the FTP address for the site:
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 4
  5. Enter the username for the FTP server (you will be prompted for the password when you connect):
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 5
  6. Enter a name:
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 6
  7. Finish up the wizard, and then you’ll be ready to connect! You’ll be prompted for the password the first time that you try and connect, but you can have the password saved after that if you wish.
    Map FTP to Drive - Step 7

That process will take less than 30-seconds to complete after you become familiar with doing it. There is a way to assign a drive letter to a FTP server, but it does take some addition work. I’ve found three sources that try to make it a little easier:

  1. Tutorial – This is a relatively quick process and would be my first choice out of the three mentioned here. It requires no third-party apps to make it work, and it truly lets you map a FTP server to a drive. It does require using the command line.
  2. NetDrive – This is a free program offered by Novell that has a GUI interface for setting up FTP servers as drives on your computer.
  3. FTP Drive – This is a small free program that also brings a GUI interface to the configuration, but the program always has to be running if you want the mapped drive to work.

While those solutions make it possible to assign a drive letter to the FTP, I don’t see an added advantage by doing so. The steps that I walked you through in this article will give nearly every program access to your FTP, and it is super easy to setup. I’m sure there is some reason that you would want a drive letter though…I just haven’t found them. :)